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CUSTOMER SERVICE IN MFO:
HOW CUSTOMERS ARE SERVED IN THE UNIVERSE OF SHORT-TERM LOANS

Alexandra Shiryaeva
Head of Customer Comfort at UseDesk
We reached out to 96 various lending providers with the simplest but most vital question about how to get a loan.

In this article, we will share our findings as is: which support channels are popular, and which ones are dead, how quickly the lending providers respond to a request and what they say in their responses, and how good is MFO's (micro-financing organizations) support in general.
Overview
Email is the most popular channel used by MFOs.

Providing support via instant messengers is a promising and free niche.

Less than 15% of companies respond to initial inquiries about loans.

The quality of responses is negatively affected by ineffective automation.

Anatoly never got a loan and started a second job.

Support Channels

Support channels that are used by MFOs:
63%
Email
32%
Facebook
27%
Live Chat
27%
VK.com
6%
Telegram
2%
WhatsApp/Viber
Email remains the most popular channel, followed by social networks, while live chat and messengers are falling by the wayside. Especially, the messengers. It can be justified in terms of business (email does not require an immediate response), however, this is not a customer-focused approach.

If you provide a customer support service in MFO, hurry to occupy a niche: offer customers opportunity to contact you in a way that is convenient to them, not you. First of all, offer a live chat on website or messengers. The questions about the loans are either impulsive or urgent, thus, a customer is likely to apply for a loan with a company that is easy to contact to and that provides the information about the terms of the loan quickly.

At the same time, instant messenger as a communication channel is even better than a live chat, not only because it is quick and easy. More important, you cannot follow-up with a customer who has left the website while messenger allows staying in touch with a customer. As you never miss a customer in the messenger, you don't need to count every second spent on the answer. Bonus: the whole communication history is saved for a customer in one place.

We reviewed a response time as a standalone metric — find more details below.
You can provide unlimited ways of communication with customers — email, phone, social networks, instant messengers and live chat — all in one tool. No worries — there is no chance that something is lost or messed up. The operators see the tickets received from different channels in one place and process them quickly.

UseDesk goes even further: you can enable any communication channel, moreover, you can link all customer contacts and merge history of communications from different channels into one place that is quickly accessible by an operator.
By the way, a quick answer is always good, however, the practice has shown that today's MFO market is characterized by not only the long repose time but by no reaction to requests at all. Live chats have a response rate of 99%, while other communication channels are not that successful. For example, out of all the companies we emailed, only 15% have replied, for Facebook messages — 2.5% of questions were responded.

It is reasonable to rethink an approach to customers: do not offer a channel if it does not actually work. Creating an image of support availability in multiple directions, while the reality is far away from the promises, costs you losing customers and their trust.
Response Time
Overall, response time is great: it does not exceed the critical point in the majority of the companies that we have investigated. The picture is nice.

More than half of the companies reply to emails quickly: some of them answer within half an hour, and some — within two hours, which is also good for this communication channel.
Скорость ответа в почте
Live chats and messengers are ideal. Both allows getting a response within moments — that is what is needed for those looking for a microloan. Social networks are not far behind.

It's not recommended to take more than 1 minute to respond: when you are waiting on the other side of communication channel, time lasts much longer. If you have installed a widget on the website, monitor response time using SLA.
As the specifics of communication's subject matter requires fast replies, it is important to optimize and automate all relevant processes. Actually, the automation affects the customer support metrics: rules of ticket processing, auto-replies and canned messages reduce the response time by 100 times in some cases, but there's still more you need to know.

Process automation that is focused only on increasing the response speed can damage the quality of these responses. Optimization should be carried out in the way that does not give a negative impression: use canned messages but always add personal details to them, inform a customer that the answer is generated automatically, think over the response script in nuances, and try to predict customer's reactions, and so on.
Quality of answers
Overall, the universe of MFOs is still far from being a customer-focused sphere: out of almost 80 answers that we received, only 1 can be scored as "Excellent". And even the latter one was not ideal.

We've selected two most revealing answers and commented each of them.
Anatoly
Hello! How can I get a loan? I have passport only.
Learn From the Mistakes of Others
Do not overwhelm a customer with the details: : if a question is straightforward, provide simple and short answer that includes active links and steps to follow. Otherwise, a microloan becomes a regular credit which is quite difficult to obtain.

Do not change the channel: when a customer sends a message via email or live chat, do not ask him to call you back. The customer should get a response in the same place where he asked a question, otherwise, you are at risk of losing him.

When all operators are busy, inform a customer when he will be contacted and through which means will you contact him, so that he knows what to expect and whether there is something to wait for.

The study showed that the email answers are the weakest: check your operators. Do not use empty templates and never focus on response time only because the quality of the answer is of the same importance.

When you are unable to offer a loan given the customer's circumstances, define your requirements so that the customer is informed, and suggest the alternatives. The customer will remember it.

Do not use "you need", "you are required". Иin instructions. Use more gentle language: "just go there, do something". This language is clearer, and the whole instructions do not look that massive.

In the last message, always ask a customer whether he needs any further assistance to make sure the request has been fully resolved.

The greeting should end with either an exclamation point, or a comma, but not a period. In Russian, the exclamation mark is the best choice.
Great Customer Service as a Guarantee of Endless Sales
A time when customers tolerated unresponsive and slow service providers is over, and disregarding quality of services today means losing a substantial portion of the profit.

Recently, together with MoneyMan, we conducted a study in which we investigated the correlation between the scores given to a support team by the customers and the number of actually signed loan contracts. Let the numbers speak for themselves.
No Feedback / No Score
х1
Any Score
х1.2
"Excellent"
х2
Today, a potential lendee is more likely to get a loan from a company that responds fast, communicates openly and friendly, rather than from a company that keeps a customer waiting for an email containing nothing more but "go to our website and read through it." The customer service is not a whim. This is the key to boosting sales. Every customer asks you and your competitors the same questions. Having quick responses is one of the customer's priorities. The second thing is trust. When your responses are slow and poor, you are not going to get a second chance to winning this customer.

The trust is not an accidental sub-topic of the section. People tend to maintain financial relations with those who do not fail but stable and reliable. Before a customer contacted you, he has tried to borrow money from relatives or friends. From customer perspective, it is very important to ensure the contract transparency and your reliability. This can be demonstrated only by open communications and professional attitude to customer support services.
Greeting is good.

The operator's answer starts with restrictions. At the same time, the customer's question – whether he can apply for a loan with passport only – remains unanswered. The response should be structured the other way around. The answer that is starting with "of course, the passport is enough" would give the customer an impression that there is no need to continue further loan provider search.

In situation when you have nothing to offer, an ideal response is to give recommendations followed by offering to provide the details.

That's good that the operator asks the clarifying questions whether any further help is needed.

The link should be clickable — this saves customer's time and he quickly gets the information needed. The faster he gets there — the sooner he applies for a loan.

A warm friendly farewell leaves a nice impression and the customer is likely to memorize the conversation.
A greeting should never end with a period: use a comma or an exclamation mark.

Unacceptable communication style: the customer is told what to do as if he was stupid or asked obvious questions.

No link to the website.

No information about the documents needed for the loan application.

The potential customer became a lost customer.
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If you are not sure whether your customer support team is effective, or whether you use the appropriate communication channels, email us at support@usedesk.com with the subject line "How to build the best customer service and beat the competitors in MFOs market" — we are here to audit your processes.
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